News Analysis: Opinions differ over direction of post-poll Venezuela

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-01 14:59:19|Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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CARACAS, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Political observers differ over the direction Venezuela will take following Sunday's election for a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) tasked to rewrite the constitution.

Sociologist and academic Jose Antonio Egido dismissed allegations by Venezuela's conservative opposition and its international allies that the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela will simply use the 545-member ANC to consolidate its power.

The ANC, whose members were elected in a closely watched poll on Sunday, must reflect a cross section of society, said Egido, who teaches at the Center for African, American and Caribbean Knowledge.

"The constituent assembly has to express the will of the majority, not just of the chavistas (government supporters)," said Egido.

The majority include people who oppose the government, but are not necessarily aligned with the right-wing leaders of the conservative opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), he said.

Economist Jose Carlos Carcione is skeptical that the ANC will succeed in lifting Venezuela out of its protracted and increasingly violent political crisis.

The fact that the government was able to hold the ANC election despite opposition from the national and international forces, has only inflamed an unruly opposition whose own informal poll against the ANC, held in mid-July, was dismissed by officials.

The MUD said its poll drew more than 7 million people, but given its unofficial nature there was no way to verify that claim. Officials said the actual number was closer to 2.5 million.

"We are far from achieving dialogue between the two sides through the constituent assembly, when there is the possibility of greater violence due to the (MUD's) apparent lack of control over violent groups," said Carcione, a leading member of Venezuela's leftist political movement Marea Socialista.

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's administration have in turn contested the official results of Sunday's election.

The National Electoral Council announced more than 8 million Venezuelans, or 41.53 percent of registered voters, took part in the poll.

"Maduro got 1,795,144 votes," the MUD posted on Twitter on Monday.

"When there is doubt about the official numbers of voters, it weakens any attempts to compromise," said Carcione.

"While the opposition (on Sunday) showed deserted polling stations, there were media outlets that extolled voter turnout at other sites, which raises doubts about figures that have not been audited by an independent sector and about the accuracy of information from July 30," said Carcione.

According to Egido, Sunday's election marks a major victory for the ruling socialist party, no matter what the actual turnout is.

He described the government's insistence on holding the vote regardless of U.S. threats of economic sanctions as "heroic."

The constituent assembly represents "a defeat for the region's bourgeoisie and leading Latin American governments, as well as for Spain and the European Union," said Egido, referring to demands for Maduro to abandon the project.

It remains to be seen how effective the ANC will be, Carcione said, noting simply getting the assembly installed sets the stage for a pitched battle between the ruling party and the MUD.

"This week we will see how the installation of the constituent assembly will go, who will be its key figures and also where the National Assembly (congress) will convene," said Carcione.

President Maduro has said the ANC will be installed over a 72-hour period at the legislative headquarters in the capital Caracas, currently home to the opposition-controlled Congress.